The methane bubbles were reaching the surface »« You need allies, you need supporters

There is no flagship

A factual claim made on the Internet that is not true. I wish to say how it’s not true.

It’s on a thread where there is a lot of bashing of Freethought blogs, much of it mendacious. This one for some reason particularly set off my SIWOTI response. The commenter is Scote.

 There’s also the (not unrelated) piñata that FtB is a monoculture, when there’s actually many different blogs varied in content and tone: PZ Myers

Monoculture? No. But FtB is invitation only and has a broad organizational ethos which the individual blogs have to fit to be invited to be a part of FtB. PZ’s blog is the flagship blog of the FtB brand, and thus for good or for ill, his blog sets the overall tone for the site.

No. It doesn’t. It isn’t, and it doesn’t. There is no “flagship blog” here, and there is no “overall tone for the site.” We operate independently. The different blogs are different, and we all work independently. We talk to each other, of course, but we don’t give or take orders.

I’d been writing this blog for nine years when I joined FTB. I set my own tone the first day I started writing. It remains my own.

Comments

  1. moarscienceplz says

    Ugh. Jerry Coyne’s fawning support for Israel in the current war, combined with his tonedeaf posts about rape and Dawkins put me right on the precipice of bit-bucketing my bookmark for WhyEvolutionIsTrue.
    I predict that he will soon regret his string of newly-acquired commenters, and his emboldening some of his existing commenters to unleash their views of these topics. But, maybe Jerry will learn something from it.

  2. says

    I don’t understand the obsession with identifying and then worshiping/demonizing “leaders” that so many of these people have. The desperate need for a hierarchy with an identified top, middle, and bottom is something I can’t understand.

    Also, I’m doing a fundraiser to raise awareness of my current leadership of the global atheist movement. Details to follow.

  3. screechymonkey says

    moarscienceplz@1: “I predict that he will soon regret his string of newly-acquired commenters”

    No, he won’t. They fit in perfectly with his passive-aggressive approach. He declares how he’s not expressing any opinion on certain subjects, because he’s too scared and intimidated by the mean internet bullies, and that’s the cue for his commenters to go to town and say all the things he “can’t.”

    And the relationship is symbiotic: I notice that the Freeze Peach Brigade never seems to mind that Coyne deletes comments and bans people on a much stricter basis than Pharyngula ever has. (Which is his prerogative on his site, of course — it’s the hypocrisy I’m noting.)

    Don’t get me wrong — I like WEIT, and Coyne is usually worth reading. But for a long time now, he’s been indulging in this insincere “I’m above your petty blogospheric disputes” pose while taking his little occasional pot shots and cheering on one side of the Deep Rifts.

  4. Omar Puhleez says

    @#1: “Ugh. Jerry Coyne’s fawning support for Israel in the current war, combined with….”
    .
    The trouble with this war is that both sides are right. The Palestinians in Gaza know that without periodic cross-border tunnelling and rocket attacks, they will gradually wither away and become insignificant, and the Israelis know that they are essentially in a siege situation and must fight those attacks off. The Israelis seek justification in the eyes of the world as Holocaust victims, the Palestinians as a people dispossessed.
    .
    Flip a coin. Choose your side. It’s sure to be the right one.

  5. tiko says

    I certainly don’t think Pharyngula sets the tone for everyone else but there is an overall tone to FTB.
    When FTB was starting a lot of the blogs ,including this one,that were on my bookmarks ended up here and of course many others that I had never heard of have become must reads.
    First of all the differences between blogs means that FTB is Pretty much a one stop shop for news. ** Politics,international politics,science (biology and geology to name just two) history and current affairs just for starters.
    The overall theme though can be summed up in one word and that’s inclusive.What seems to be evidence of the hive mind by critics is just a lot of people ,no matter what subject they mainly write about,who think women, LGTB people,people of colour , people with disabilities (physical and mental) and the economically disadvantaged (and there’s a lot of crossover here) should be treated like human beings or to put it bluntly like straight white men. This is not only reflected in what people say but can be seen by the diversity of the bloggers here, who not only write about the above but in many cases are on the front line so to speak.
    So there is an overall theme of being inclusive and wanting this to be reflected in the Atheist community at large and if this isn’t possible ,which seems to be the case,to break away and say to marginalised people “you are welcome here”.
    Some questions for our critics-
    What’s so wrong with being inclusive?
    Why do you seem to be more upset at losing us than we are of losing you?
    What sort of person calls someone a social justice warrior as an insult?

    ** I do read other blogs of course including skepchick,WHTM and pandagon which are regularly linked to here.I suspect a lot of readers here have them bookmarked too.(great minds and all that ha ha)

  6. dogfightwithdogma says

    One of the meanings of the term flagship is “the best, largest, or most important one of a group of things.” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flagship). I understand that the writer at Coynes website almost certainly did not mean this, but it is one way of spinning (oops, I meant interpreting) his comment. I wonder how everyone here at FtB feels about this particular interpretation of PZ’s blog. Is his the flagship blog in this sense of the meaning of flagship?

  7. says

    “The trouble with this war [in the Gaza Strip] is that both sides are right.”

    I’m much more inclined to say that both sides are WRONG. Israel is ruled by Jewish bigots and Hamas is run by Islamic bigots. Screw them both!

  8. mudskipper says

    @schreechymonkey–I read both WEIT and Pharyngula. And my perception agrees with yours: Coyne is much thinner-skinned and quicker to ban than PZ. On WEIT, you can get banned for simply saying you dislike cats. He usually doesn’t let creationists or religionists post at all and he is very sensitive to critical remarks. And I couldn’t help but notice that he let people savage PZ, attributing all sorts of invidious motivations to him, while demanding that Dawkins get treated with kid gloves because he is “my friend.” How Coyne gets set up as an exemplar of unbiased free speech when compared to PZ baffles me.

    Having said that, I read and enjoy both blogs and find the tribalism surrounding both a tad bemusing.

  9. says

    tiko @ 6

    I do read other blogs of course including skepchick,WHTM and pandagon which are regularly linked to here.I suspect a lot of readers here have them bookmarked too.(great minds and all that ha ha)

    I’m constantly surprised how few individuals I encounter for the number of blogs, message boards, and Facebook groups I read. I guess it makes sense that people who are interested in things I’m interested in are interested in things I’m interested in.

  10. John Morales says

    dogfightwithdogma @9, I don’t take issue with the terminology; as you note, it’s a valid use of the term ‘flagship’.

    Nor do I take issue with “But FtB is invitation only and has a broad organizational ethos”

    But the conceit that Pharyngula therefore sets the overall tone for FTB is risible.

    (And the selective use of ‘site’—a blog is also a ‘site’— is noticeable)

  11. mildlymagnificent says

    But the conceit that Pharyngula therefore sets the overall tone for FTB is risible.

    Absolutely.

    Anyone who thinks the language and tone of The Horde in full-on righteous anger mode is acceptable when commenting at any and all other blogs here will find themselves disabused of that notion in very short order.

  12. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Coyne writes a blog, no matter how twee and 2001 he gets about calling it that. Putz.

  13. Al Dente says

    While the FTB blogs have similarities (atheism, social justice, progressive politics) there are considerable differences between them. Comrade Physioproffe posts recipes, Cuttlefish is a good poet, Ed tells us what the RWNs are up to, etc. I am continually intrigued with the great variety of blogs and bloggers here. I’m sure the rest of the hive mind agrees.

  14. says

    Apologies for being off-topic, but this post at #5 hit me:

    The trouble with this war is that both sides are right. The Palestinians in Gaza know that without periodic cross-border tunnelling and rocket attacks, they will gradually wither away and become insignificant, and the Israelis know that they are essentially in a siege situation and must fight those attacks off. The Israelis seek justification in the eyes of the world as Holocaust victims, the Palestinians as a people dispossessed.
    .
    Flip a coin. Choose your side. It’s sure to be the right one.

    That’s an insight I never thought of before. I kind of want to post it to my Facebook… ?

    Back on topic… I can see why PZ’s blog is seen as the “flagship” here. And further, I actually do kind of agree that there’s a Social Justice, Inclusive, feminist bent to at least most if not all of the blogs I follow here. But see… that’s why I love Freethought Blogs. I love that pretty much all of the blogs I read here go in that direction. It’s refreshing and wonderful and is pretty much why I haven’t simply gone back to calling myself Jewish (minus the faith in any gods, of course) and while saying that, yes, I’m an atheist, I’m not an Atheist(TM). I’m proud to still be an Atheist(TM) because of Freethought Blogs (and Skepchick and so on). So that comment? Even if I were to agree 100% with it, I would consider that a good thing. From my perspective, it’s a compliment.

    That said… PZ’s blog does not set the tone. The Horde, for one thing, is terrifying. Refreshing as fuck and so much fun, but still terrifying. Woe be to anyone who dares troll Pharyngula… sharks sharpen their teeth on trolls at Pharyngula. It’s frightening and wonderful. But not every blog here allows that level of anti-trolling. Not even PZ himself sets the tone, as not every blogger here is as much an anti-theist as PZ (or at least I’d consider PZ an anti-theist… I should note that I consider myself an anti-theist as well, and I think that’s a good thing). Some bloggers here might even be called “Accomodationists” (though I don’t consider that word a slur anymore like I used to, because I do think a lot of the arguments are actually valid and important and right).

    So yeah… that’s my take on it.

  15. anat says

    To Omar and NateHeavens, look up this old interview with Amos Oz (Israeli author, one of the founders of Peace Now). More recently, I saw this interview. He still believes the same general ideas, but there are places where I’m afraid he lost perspective. (A world in which Amos Oz and mu father share too many opinions is bizzaro world.)

  16. RJW says

    @5 Can’t agree, Omar, both sides aren’t ”right”, one side is fighting an unjust war.

  17. says

    Ed Brayton and I did define the ethos when we set this thing up, and the first criterion we both enthusiastically endorsed was that we’d encourage diversity…that is, that we’d recruit bloggers who were not like us. And once we had a good collection of writers here and got past that early misstep (Thunderf00t), we put together a set of rules, one being that we were explicitly excluded from being on the admissions committee — so except for the original gang here, we had nothing to do with selecting the bloggers of FtB. Those 3 new bloggers signed on last week? We were enthusiastic about getting them, but all the work of picking and vetting and signing ‘em up was done by Not Me and Not Ed.

    We might have bootstrapped the whole thing into existence, but any ethos here now is self-perpetuating and independent of the founders.

    We also have no editorial influence on anyone else. It’s grade A prime ignorance and stupidity to argue that somehow I’m dictating what people should write about, or how.

  18. says

    I seem to remember that you and Ed did not quite get along as well in the earlier days, before FTB as well PZ. But you two did not split any communities or anything nearly like this. I wonder if there is a useful contrast in there?

  19. Maureen Brian says

    There’s one other uniting factor – better writing than the average blog. With so many subjects and so many writing styles, though, it hardly constitutes uniformity of thought!

  20. colnago80 says

    Re mudskipper @ #13

    I agree that Coyne is quite intolerant of contrary opinions. He gave me the heave ho several years ago for pointing out that Lawrence Krauss associated himself with a convicted child molester.

  21. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    The tone at FtB seems as varied as the contributors, which makes it great. Each person has very much their own voice. Sure there are common themes/subjects and overlap of interests but that is true of any multi-contributor blog. The only common aspect of tone that spans the entire blog is that certain things are not permitted like sexist/racist/homophobia/bullying etc. There’s definitely a mostly liberal perspective but based on the things that the contributors have written before joining FtB that perspective clearly is not new or coming from marching orders of any sort from on high.

    @Moar 1- Yup. I’ve been on hiatus from WEIT for awhile mostly due to just being busy and having so many other blogs that I’d rather read, but just the other day I thought about returning and realized that with the Gaza conflict ongoing I really didn’t want to go back anytime soon. Jerry is great on matters of education, church/state, science, food and cats. But on Israel he’s like most of the problematic MSM in being way too quick to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. It’s not conducive to any kind of honest/useful discussion of such a complex topic with plenty of justification and blame for both sides, so I go to other blogs for that. Also, as Mudskipper and Colnago note Jerry gets awfully heated whenever somebody disagrees with him and often demands the commenter apologize rather than simply explaining why they are wrong or just banning them. It just rubs me as a patronizing approach to one’s commenters and it sends a pretty unsubtle message that everyone is best to agree with the house or else. Which is ironic considering his claim of concern for free speech and his lamenting of his inability to weigh in on hot-button topics out of fear for the PC police.

  22. moarscienceplz says

    screechymonkey @#4

    moarscienceplz@1: “I predict that he will soon regret his string of newly-acquired commenters”
    No, he won’t. They fit in perfectly with his passive-aggressive approach.

    Well Ophelia, the good news is that Jerry Coyne apparently reads your blog. The bad news is that screechymonkey may have a more clear-sighted view of his character than I. I appear to be banned from commenting on WEIT, and I can only conclude it is Jerry’s response to my post #1 here. I have made only one comment at WEIT in recent days and I think it was a fairly innocuous one, and Jerry did not respond to it as he commonly does when he doesn’t like a comment.
    Jerry would probably say that if I had a problem with his posts I should have expressed it on WEIT, and he would have a point, but I kept silent because I wasn’t in the mood to fend off dozens of other commenters, and I don’t think I could have changed his mind in any case.
    Jerry could have sent a private email to me if he was so troubled by my comment. After all, I have made probably a hundred comments on his ‘website’ to date, and I would think I deserved a chance to defend myself, but que sera sera.

  23. says

    Ugh. I’m sorry, moar (if I may call you that). That seems very petty.

    I suppose I could see it if this thread were full of slurs and insults, and I could see it all the more if the whole blog were. I tend not to feel very friendly toward people who giggle and smirk at slurs and photoshops aimed at me.

    But that isn’t the case. There’s criticism but no slurs. Well (having looked) maybe “putz” as silent Bob pointed out. One slur.

    Still petty, in my book.

    I’m sure he doesn’t read my blog though. He may have read this thread (and there will be 947 people who will have rushed to point it out to him), but the blog, no.

  24. moarscienceplz says

    I didn’t really understand Josh’s comment, it looks like it might have editing problems. The first translation of ‘putz’ I found was “stupid or worthless person”, which is what I always thought it meant. But now I see its literal translation is ‘penis’, so yeah that’s pretty harsh. Still, I didn’t write it, so unless he just banned everybody who commented on this thread (which would be even pettier) he just is super touchy, I guess.
    And feel free to shorten my ‘nym. it’s kind of ungainly, I freely admit. Somebody on Pharyngula claimed it’s a slight to do so without permission, but I don’t feel that way. Anything to make communication clearer and easier is fine in my book.

  25. says

    He is indeed super super touchy. Our friendship ended very abruptly 3 years ago when he got touchy about one commenter (a woman) here (actually old B&W, but same thing) saying something critical about the comments of a friend of his (also a woman). He sent me an incredibly bossy shouty email about it, I sent a sarcastic response, and he cc’d me on his email telling the Injured Friend that I’m horrible. Super super super touchy. And…not nice.

  26. screechymonkey says

    Yeah, WEIT remains the only place on the internet where I’ve been banned. It was about a year or two ago, when Coyne posted one of his passive-aggressive swipes in which he compared Dawkins’ critics to a pack of wild dogs or something, and declared he would ban anyone who accused Dawkins of sexism or whatever on WEIT. The usual suspects then chimed in with their slimey attacks on Rebecca Watson (who, ostensibly, had nothing to do with the thread, but as you know they need little excuse and recognized the implied invitation), and the most Coyne — who routinely censors comments he doesn’t like — could muster was a little polite handwringing about gosh, maybe we could not go any further on that subject.

    I posted a short comment about the hypocrisy of claiming not to be taking sides or getting involved in drama, while threatening one group of people with banning yet wringing his hands “helplessly” while his commenters attack anyone other than Dawkins.

    And like moarscienceplz, there was no warning, no announcement, no email, no nothing. My comment was disappeared, and when I tried to post something completely anodyne on an unrelated thread, it didn’t appear. It was so bizarre. On the one hand, yeah, it’s a fair cop, I technically violated his “Roolz” by “telling him how to run his site,” but dear FSM he’s a thin-skinned phony.

  27. Silentbob says

    @ 30 Ophelia, 31 moarscienceplz

    For the record, I was kidding (hence the winky smiley). I doubt most non-Yiddish speakers are aware of the literal meaning of that word, and even if Josh was I would find it about as offensive as Phil Plait’s “Don’t be a dick” speech (i.e. not at all).

  28. moarscienceplz says

    Silentbob
    I certainly know you were kidding. As I said, I didn’t understand what Josh was trying to say.
    Now that I know what ‘putz’ means, I personally would not use it except in extreme cases, although now that I am more aware of Coyne’s pattern of behavior, I better understand why someone might choose to apply it to him.

  29. dshetty says

    @moarscienceplz
    You should note that Coynes blog is moderated and he doesnt allow , by default , comments from first time commenters till he has reviewed them (usually leads people to think they have been banned)

    @screechymonkey
    Yeah, WEIT remains the only place on the internet where I’ve been banned.
    Ha. Yes WEIT has that distinction for me too, My crime was responding to “all agnostics are cowards” with “all atheists are philosophical ignoramuses” (a position I don’t hold but I felt would be effective in making the point about stupid generalizations) and responding to Apologize! with “You first!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>